The violent reality of Bahrains political unrest moved closer to Formula One on Thursday when the Force India team said two of their staff had asked to go home after colleagues were caught up in a petrol bomb incident outside Manama.
A spokesman for the Silverstone-based team said one of those concerned was a team member,the other a contractor brought in for Sundays race. Neither were directly involved in the incident on Wednesday evening. He said four team members had been returning in their rental vehicle to their Manama hotel from the Sakhir circuit when they were caught up in the incident on the motorway.
The Bahrain International Circuit issued a statement referring to an isolated incident involving a handful of illegal protester acting violently towards police. During this incident a Molotov Cocktail landed in the vicinity of their vehicle. After approximately two minutes,the route was cleared and the vehicle carried on its journey,it added.
There were no casualties and eyewitness reports from the scene confirmed that their vehicle had not been targeted itself. The circuit said it had confidence in the authorities to deal with such incidents and can confirm that all the usual precautions are being taken around the track to ensure the level of security is maintained. Numerous anti-government protests took place in and around Manama including one near the circuit according to the U.S. embassy. Police fired sound bombs to disperse the crowd. Force India,whose drivers are Germanys Nico Hulkenberg and Britains Paul Di Resta,said they had not been a target and nobody was hurt. Hulkenberg,however,admitted that the situation in the country was not ideal to race.
Anti-government protesters are planning Days of Rage ahead of a race that they want called off while security forces have rounded up dozens of activists in recent days in a clampdown on the opposition.